Ardern’s defence of Shaw sends terrible spending message

The Prime Minister’s wholehearted support for James Shaw as an ‘exceptional Minister’ sends a terrible message about the standards for spending in this Government, National’s Finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“Associate Finance Minister James Shaw advocated strongly for $11.7 million to be spent on the Green School, although he later admitted that his due diligence into the project was just looking at its website.

“We now have the bizarre situation where the Government is spending $11.7 million of taxpayer money on an initiative that neither Labour, NZ First nor the Green Party support.

“Leaked emails also show that he held up approval for other projects until he got his way – holding other Government parties to ransom.

“The Prime Minister this morning on Newshub waved that aside, explaining ‘everything is a negotiation’.

“Holding up ‘shovel-ready’ projects for political advantage is clearly fine and to be expected in the way this Government has operated.

“Shane Jones claimed the lion’s share of the first $3 billion slush fund, the Provincial Growth Fund, with the claim ‘to the victor goes the spoils’. 

“Now a second $3 billion fund is looking more and more like a second slush fund, with Government parties fighting over spoils and the Prime Minister condoning the action.

“The large sums of money are allocated, but Labour has no plans to deliver. This compounds the problem and means promised jobs are not realised.

“Jacinda Ardern’s failure to punish James Shaw reveals everything we need to know about the sloppy standards around spending that have been a hallmark of this Government. 

“At a time when we’ve seen 5000 Kiwis go on benefits in the past two weeks we need government stimulus to be well targeted and effective; instead we’re seeing political horse-trading and the worst offender praised as ‘an exceptional Minister’.”